On the Day of Commemoration of the Roma Genocide on August 2, ternYpe International Roma Youth Network calls for a European wide political recognition of the persecution and genocide of Roma and Sinti in Europe by the Nazi regime, and for a greater awareness in our societies of the danger of antigypsyism, hate speech and stigmatization, which continuously cause social exclusion and marginalization of Roma in most European countries.
On the 2nd of August 1944, 2897 elderly people, women and children, the remaining Sinti and Roma of the so-called “gypsy camp” (“Zigeunerlager”) at Auschwitz-Birkenau, were murdered in the gas chambers. Knowledge and official recognition of the extermination of Roma during the Second World War is still very limited – especially among young Europeans including the Roma. Unlike the genocide of Jews, the wartime fate of Roma people is still a blank page in historiography, the Roma Genocide during the Nazi regime; tens of thousands of Roma murdered in the occupied Eastern territories and thousands of them killed in extermination camps has still not entered the canon of modern history curricula. The ignorance of the majority of society concerning Roma history contributes complexly to the prejudice Roma people suffer from, and it also represents an obstacle to their inclusion within the European Union.
In order to promote the knowledge and understanding of the fate of Roma during the Nazi regime and reflect on its important for the present, International Roma Youth Network ternYpe has initiated the “Roma Genocide Commemoration” project in 2010. The importance and great impact of this project have been appreciated by the European institutions by selecting it as one of the 27 national winning projects for the European Charlemagne Youth Prize 2011. In 2011 the project had the support of the Polish National Government and regional municipality, OSCE\ODHIR, and former EU President Jerzy Buzek. The Roma Genocide project, now in its third year of realization, is one of ternYpe flagship projects to be realized every year around August 2nd as the commemoration day of the Roma Genocide.
ternYpe International Roma Youth Network and its member organizations commemorated on August 2nd with events in the local communities in all their countries. Like every year about around 60 young Roma and non-Roma gathered in Auschwitz on the 2nd of August to remember the fate of thousands of Roma during Second World War and raise awareness of danger of extremism and present issues of antigypsyism and discrimination. The purpose is not only to spread the knowledge about the Roma Genocide and to promote the commemoration by all Europeans, but we hope to shape the collective historical memory of this event as until today historic knowledge and education on this issue remains scarce in Europe.
Recognition of our history and identity, historical reparation and a deep restoration of our image are the keys in our road to dignity as people, we can not forget and we don not want to forget the murders of those who never had the opportunity to raise their voices. Young people take an essential role and responsibility to construct a peaceful and inclusive Europe today and in the future. Therefore, we shall strengthen the voice and participation of young people, as the consciousness about the GENOCIDE constitutes a key element of our European identity and the founding principles of the European integration. We understand that our call and our responsibility as young Roma is to disseminate the knowledge of the Roma genocide into the mainstream society, from civil society initiatives till institutional visibility. Through our presence in Auschwitz we want to express our commitment in the fight for the recognition of our history.
The “Roma Genocide” project, contributes to the ternYpe mission and strategy to create a space for young people to become active citizens through empowerment, mobilization, participation and self-organization. We believe in the common efforts by creating trust, and mutual respect between Roma and non-Roma youth.